Listened to the Wonder Rose Rice commercial for the umpteenth time today. For those of you that don’t know (and really, why should you) it’s a new brand of rice for sale in NZ. Apparently it comes with quite an aggressive marketing strategy, I’ve hardly heard ads for any other rice brands! Also it’s available in the Chinese supermarkets too… wow!
Anyway, I digress, that isn’t the point of this post. The point is the radio ad for this rice brand. It’s cutesy, a conversation staged between what one can assume is the rice talking and some kind of radio voiceover. The voiceover says “Wonder Rose Rice is grown right here in the Californian Sun” and the cute rice voice says “Go on, take your shirt off, the sun feels nice” (in a slightly annoying, American accent). Then the voiceover says “Wonder Rose Rice is grown in California, not somewhere with an unpronounceable name”, to which the cute rice voice replies “You what now?” (which to me, is quite a uniquely kiwi turn of phrase, as opposed to an American one)
So this was my point, (laboured as it is) most of the rice available in NZ, I would hazard a guess is grown in Asian countries, which is obviously what the ad was alluding to. (Personally, I can pronounce “Thailand” and it is has less syllables than California, but I digress), my question was, why was this subtle racist exchange needed to sell rice?
I can only assume that the aim of the advert was two fold. It was subtly insinuating that rice grown in a “nice pronounceable” place such as “California, USA” is of a better quality than rice grown in some “unpronounceable [insert Asian country]”. Furthermore, by using a uniquely Kiwi turn of phrase as “you what now?” it was also aligning itself with the NZ public, as in the cute little rice has now moved to NZ and is assimilated to NZ culture.
I may be reading too much into it, (feel free to comment below if you think so) but we’ve had a few incidences of quite nasty racism against a multitude of different races here in Aotearoa recently, and I can’t help but think that these sort of things don’t really help.